Survivor of ‘Happy Face Killer’ Sues Lifetime

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Lifetime Entertainment defamed a woman who survived an attack by “Happy Face Killer” Keith Hunter Jesperson by depicting her as a prostitute in a movie about the serial killer, the woman claims in court.
     Daun Slagle sued A&E Television Networks, Lifetime et al. on Sept. 3 in Superior Court. Slagle is a grandmother and nurse.
     Slagle was 21 and a mother of three when she met Jesperson on the night of April 13, 1990. She had been wandering the streets in the cold with her baby when Jesperson persuaded her to get into his truck at a parking lot in Mount Shasta.
     After driving to a remote location, Jesperson tried to force her to orally copulate him and choked her when she refused. She says she managed to talk Jesperson down, and eventually escaped from the car with her baby. Slagle believes her infant’s cries saved her.
     The 41-page complaint states: “Despite having been portrayed as the courageous victim and survivor of an attempted murder, plaintiff was humiliated and embarrassed by defendants when she was depicted in the ‘Happy Face Killer’ movie as a prostitute, a person who voluntarily orally copulated a serial killer, a mother who committed sex acts for pay in front of her infant child, an unfit mother and person who sought to extort money by threatening to file a false criminal rape complaint against Jesperson.”
     Slagle says the movie suggests that she “provoked and/or deserved the attack due to her low character, criminal behavior and taunting of Jesperson.”
     “This portrayal is false, egregious and disgusting,” the complaint states.
     Lifetime’s “Happy Face Killer” stars David Arquette as Jesperson. The 2014 movie credits Jordana Largy as a young prostitute named Candy Smith.
     Lifetime knew the portrayal was false because Slagle already had told her story on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009, she says. Jesperson never identified Slagle as a prostitute, she adds.
     Slagle says she contacted Lifetime and offered to act a source on the movie, but Lifetime never responded.
     Jesperson killed at least 8 women between 1990 and 1995. The Canadian earned his nickname by drawing happy faces on letters to authorities and the media. Serving three consecutive life sentences in Oregon, Jesperson has claimed to have killed up to 160 victims.
     Slagle seeks damages for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and misappropriation. She also wants rebroadcast of the movie enjoined.
     She is represented by Bryan Vereschagin of San Francisco.
     Also named as defendants are Front Street Pictures and screenwriter Richard Christian Matheson.

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